This goes through my head a lot. Actually, it did back in 2012 when I first started taking clients. And that's probably why I was kind of wishy-washy about my business before. I wasn't totally committed. I didn't want to invest too much money or time if it wasn't going to work. And, when I look back now, I don't think I was ready to start a big successful photography business at that point. I mean, who knows if their business is going to turn out to be really successful, maybe some people know that, but I certainly wasn't sure. I had just gone back to college to get my undergrad degree, and that was really my main focus at the time along with family and Baha'i activities.
But earlier this year when I made the decision to actually build the business for real, that was the turning point in my attitude about it all. My kids no longer needed me for every single function in their life (the endless diapers, nursing sessions, naps, etc), and so I felt a little bit of freedom. Not in a negative way, my kids will always need me and I am happy to be there for them. But, in an awake way like, 'oh, I should probably start thinking about going back to work and what I want that to look like'. I feel blessed that I don't have to work right now if I don't want to, so there was never any pressure to start looking for jobs and figuring that out. It was just kind of a thought that crossed my mind and when I started mulling around whether or not I wanted to do photography as a full time business, I figured if I did want to, then I should build it now so that when both kids are in school, the business will actually be full time!
A lot of thought went into my decision; did I want to put in all the time and effort it would actually require, would I be able to schedule things around the schedule of my family, would I really have time to put towards all the moving parts of a small business, did I have enough money to get it going, would I have clients still, how would I find new clients, did I even still take good photos, and most pressing----why start this up again when there are so.many.photographers.everywhere. I think mostly, I followed what my heart wanted to do. I figure that if I put in the effort, had support from the key figures in my life, made the time to do it, and stayed in alignment with my purpose, then it would work out. But what was my purpose? What was my purpose for having my own photography business? Why photography? Why not work at the bank again, or find a job in my field of study (biology) or that would use the knowledge I earned along with my degree?
I thought about that for awhile. And I prayed about it. I meditated. Over the course of however long it was, maybe a couple weeks, things kept popping into my head; I don't want to leave my kids, I want to be here for them when they need me, and I want to be with them most of the time; I want to earn money for my family, I want my kids to be able to go to college, I want to contribute so my hubby doesn't feel so much of the financial burden; I actually like to work and get stuff done, if you know me then you know I just love to cross things off my to-do list. All of those things are true and are very important to me. But the purpose part of it kept nagging me. In the Baha'i Faith, which is the faith I am a part of, work is elevated to the state of prayer. So is producing art. Along with service to humanity. These things are so important in the faith, this is how we can be in a state of prayer in our lives without actually becoming an ascetic. It is through our work, and through creating and through connecting and serving our brothers and sisters that we can actually live our material lives in prayer! Isn't that amazing?! And if you're not religious or spiritual or whatever, I am sure you can still see the virtue in work, creation and service.
But what I kept coming back to was thinking about the experiences I had with my clients before. I replayed those times back in my head. I felt the happiness again from the connection and interaction and relationship built with those clients. Many of them were already my friends and family. Some were new to me. But, I think back to the time that my cousin and his wife trusted and encouraged me as my first client, to shoot their maternity session. I remember doing research and practicing, and then taking forever during the session, and they were so patient and wonderful. And then I got to edit the photos and that was so cool, too, because I got to go back and see what I had created and re-live those moments. There was the first wedding I shot, a super sweet couple, in the backyard of the bride's parents home in Eastern, WA. The whole family and their friends were sooooo nice! There was so much love! I remember practicing with my camera on my beautiful niece, Lucy. She was a baby and I had so much fun capturing her first several months just for my own pleasure. I photographed my first big wedding, a referral from one of my friends. The bride and groom were so amazing to trust me to shoot their special day! I am so thankful, and I learned so much! The bride was nervous, she doesn't really like to have her photo taken. We did the first look and then started shooting her and her groom-to-be around downtown Seattle, having a blast, and by the end she was strutting down the street and stopping traffic like a pro. It was at my friends' wedding, Amy and Amir, that I realized how amazing it was to be the photographer for these kinds of moments. Now, these are my friends, and I could have just been a guest. But, they booked me for their engagement and then their wedding. So I essentially got a backstage pass to everything that was going on behind the schemes. Some of it is chaotic, but what I got to be a part of was so special. The moment between the bride and her mom when she is getting into her dress. The sister is helping to button up the gown. The first look! The bride and groom see each other for the first time all dressed up. It's nervous, emotional, exciting, romantic all at the same time. The joy of the portraits with just the bride and groom. The ceremony! How beautifully each couple puts together their ceremony to reflect their love, their one and only story. The guests mingling and the happiness in the air. The first dances---so sweet! Some moments stolen away from the ceremony so the newly married couple can just take it in. It's all so wonderful. And it was at that wedding that I realized---this is some good stuff! I get to be witness to all these beautiful moments of my very own friends! More than I would as a guest.
I get to be a part of documenting my friend's journey to becoming a mother for the first time. I am the person who gets to be with my friends who are newly engaged and full of love and joy and excitement for what the future will bring. My friends asked me to be the person to capture the memories from the birthday party, or the wedding anniversary, or the reunion of sisters, or the celebration of a new life. I am behind the scenes at the wedding of new friends who get to be married in the venue that was once the church her grandparents got married in fifty some years before, the groom surprising the bride with her favorite Baha'i singer during the ceremony, and the extremely touching personal vows that tell all of us the story of how they knew they were meant to be together forever. I'm the one who has tears streaming down my face while I am watching these momentous celebrations and once in a lifetime memories. And IT IS AWESOME!
That's when I remembered---THIS IS THE STUFF! This is what it's about, man! It's the connections, it's being there for those moments. And as I get older, it's what I recognize as the most important in my own life, too. Not the stuff and the things, but the relationships we have with people, the way we make people feel after interacting with us, the love we spread. So, the photography business is really just the vehicle and the purpose for me is the connections and interactions and friendships. It can be the way that I carry out my purpose, but isn’t my purpose, does that make sense? My purpose isn’t to take pictures, but I can infuse my business and the interactions with my clients with my purpose. It’s amazing.
So, if you have read this far, thanks for sticking around! I know a lot of people don’t read things more than 140 characters these days, hahaha. But really, I hope you got to know me a little better and why I want to continue to build my photography business amidst a completely saturated field. I appreciate you reading, I appreciate you following my journey, and I appreciate your support!